Paul and the Meaning of Scripture

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Paul and the Meaning of Scripture

One exciting area of study is Paul’s use of the Old Testament. The apostle routinely appeals to Scripture to support his arguments and to persuade his readers. One gets the impression that Paul has a high respect for Scripture and that his knowledge of it is broad and comprehensive. And yet, there is something enigmatic about his use of the Old Testament at the same time—something elusive and even puzzling. His interpretations can appear strained, sometimes going beyond the text’s original context. Is Paul a poor reader of Scripture? Is there genuine tension between Paul’s interpretations and the original context of his quotations? 

In this riveting study, Matthew L. Halsted takes readers through Romans to explore these and related questions. In the end, he argues that such tension does exist and that the solution is not to ignore it or view it as a liability, but rather to preserve it by adopting a hermeneutic that can sufficiently account for it as an integral element for each and every act of interpretation. Following the insights of philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002), Halsted describes Paul’s use of Scripture as dialogical re-authoring—a term that captures the dynamic relationship between the apostle and the Jewish texts that were so important to him.

What scholars are saying...

"Halsted has produced an outstanding and brilliant book on philosophical hermeneutics and its relation to Paul's use of Scripture in Romans. . . . Paul does not simply reproduce the text, as his use of Hosea demonstrates. He is faithful to the text but expounds it as a 'dialogical re-authoring.' Paul retells the stories of Abraham, Adam, the exodus, the law, and new life. His 'pre-understanding' is Christology. I commend this book without reserve."
Anthony C. Thiselton
University of Nottingham, ermeritus
"Halsted's insightful use of Gadamer's hermeneutics shows how Paul enables Scripture to speak in the present. Paul's 'dialogical re-authoring,' grounded in his experiential Christology, transforms ancient texts into living texts. Convincingly executed, Halsted steers a clear path between 'interpretation as repetition' and 'hermeneutical relativism,' which could lead to dismissing Scripture as irrelevant. . . . A welcome return of Gadamer to center stage in this clear, engaging, and substantial engagement with Paul's use of Scripture."
Kent Brower
Nazarene Theological College
"Halsted creatively demonstrates how Gadamer's hermeneutics helps us better explain how Paul interprets and uses Israel's Scriptures. He intriguingly argues that Paul often goes beyond the original intentions of the human authors of the Old Testament without neglecting or contradicting those intentions, and that Paul does so via a 'dialogical re-authoring.' I highly commend Halsted's book to those interested in biblical and Pauline intertextuality."
Andrew Hollingsworth
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

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